Xavier University of Louisiana, a historically Black university, and Ochsner Health, a health-care system in the state, announced plans to jointly establish a new medical school. The goal is to help diversify the medical workforce in Louisiana and nationwide.
“Representation among medical practitioners is critical for our communities, because representation means greater quality of care, improved access, and greater patient trust in the health providers and health-care system for the many who were historically marginalized and still are,” Xavier University president Reynold Verret said at a press conference Tuesday.
The new medical school will use facilities and employ personnel from both institutions, according to a joint press release. Ochsner and Xavier also plan to craft the curriculum together and will each appoint half of the members of the medical school’s new Board of Directors.
This isn’t the first time Xavier and Ochsner have collaborated on initiatives related to health equity. A partnership between the two institutions began in the 1980s to open more clinical training sites to Xavier pharmacy school students. During the pandemic, they also partnered to create two new graduate programs in health sciences, as well as a research center dedicated to addressing health inequities in Louisiana, called the Ochsner Health and Xavier University Institute for Health Equity and Research.
“Our relationship with Xavier has already made a difference in our efforts to make more academic, economic and professional opportunities here in Louisiana,” Andy Wisdom, chairman of the board for Ochsner Health, said at the press conference. “Creating new jobs and training new physicians is critical, but just as important is the need to build a workforce that reflects the values and diversity of the amazing patients and community that we serve.”
Xavier, which announced its intention to create a medical school last year, would join fewer than a handful of HBCUs with medical schools nationwide.